Photo by Magali Gauthier
The world isn’t always safe in this day and age. I would like to think I keep myself safe by avoiding dark alleys and locking my door at night, but in this world, nothing is guaranteed. If I were in a bad situation, I would first try to run away, but that might not be immediately possible. So while I am very much a pacifist, I am convinced that people, including women, should be allowed to carry and know how to use weapons in self-defense.
Let’s back up a little to the debate on if people in general should be allowed to carry weapons. The arguments against allowing weapons include the idea that it would be harder for criminals to use weapons if they are (legally) able to obtain them in the first place and if they are not (legally) able to carry them in public. OK, so let’s say that no law-abiding citizen has one of these weapons. But what about the criminals? Those weapons could just be sold illegally and, if small enough, concealed. So wouldn’t that mean that, in that case, only criminals would have these weapons?
That doesn’t even take into account how easy it is to get kitchen knives, baseball bats, brooms and other everyday items that can be used as weapons, but are quite easy to obtain. The number of things that can be made into weapons is quite innumerable. The ones I have listed are some of the more obvious choices.
The U.S. Bureau of Justice states that between 1980 and 2010, 22 percent of all violent crime and 44 percent of robberies involved a weapon. Add the fact that an attack is likely to be some sort of ambush, and you can imagine a very bad situation, even if you know how to defend yourself. This could happen when you are walking down the street or if someone decides to come into your home.
The U.S. Bureau of Justice also states that 90 percent of perpetrators of violent crime are men. Additionally, all other things being equal, the average man can generally overpower the average woman. So odds are, a woman who is attacked in this way will, on average, be at an even greater disadvantage in this situation.
But simply pulling out a weapon could discourage your attacker from pursuing you. If an attacker knows you have, for example, a knife, then you become a less appealing target. I heard a story about a young woman who was about to be mugged in the street, but the man ran away when she pulled out her knife.
Even if that doesn’t stop the person (or persons) from trying to mug you, a weapon could help buy you time to get away. Depending on what kind of weapon you have, a weapon could be used to disarm or incapacitate your assailant long enough for you to run away.
But it isn’t enough just to carry around some mace or a gun and assume that will make you safe. No weapon will do you much good if it’s just sitting in your bag if you get ambushed, and even less if your attacker manages to use it against you. You should learn the details in using it in case you actually must use it, and basic self-defense classes in addition to that aren’t a bad idea either.
Though I would first advocate the option of running away, sometimes that isn’t possible. In those cases, being able to defend yourself with a weapon could raise your chances of becoming a victim and surviving.